Sunday, February 04, 2007

Mini Jazz Part 2

Yesterday was Part 2 of our modified Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing Workshop. For the second Saturday teachers in NYC New York teamed up with teachers in El Paso Texas to see and experience some of the wonderful possibilities of collaborative videoconferencing. Last week we looked at exchanges. This week our focus was on quests, specifically MysteryQuest. In a format, somewhat like speed dating we consolidated a few weeks collaborative project into a 75 minute whirlwind activity. Our teachers researched a mystery country and city, came up with a 5-7 minute presentation, researched the other sites mystery country and city, asked clarifying questions, made educated guesses and revealed their mystery locations. The Texas group presented a hysterical skit of a plane flight on the way to India experiencing some problems with their GPS system and having to make an emergency landing in some body of water located in the Tropic of Capricorn. The apologetic pilot's presentation of clue as the passengers experienced turbulence and confusion was nothing short of brilliant. The NYC group had their own humorous take as a BBC World News Reporter with a proper British accent and reporters in the field presented clues about their mystery location. The experience though light hearted in nature showed the tremendous learning experience a Mystery Quest provides. If you have never participated in a Berrien County MysteryQuest you are missing something.
After MysteryQuest was over we went back to our small group work where our elementary teachers paired up in groups of two or more to plan classroom collaborations for the days ahead. Using the ideas of exchanges and now quests they began planning for lessons that would build upon their two different school communities. The middle school groups planned for science and social studies exchanges. While the high school group developed a lesson plan which deals with global warming. The students would research specific affected ecosystems, present their finding to each other and even debate the issue of how real is global warming.
When our teaches said their goodbyes, I think they felt that they had formed some new "connections" with each other. I look forward to blogging about the actual videoconferences that do take place in the near future. Once again I thank Ashton Graham my colleague in El Paso for this wonderful collaborative videoconference training.